Ben Arikawa

Ben Arikawa is a Northern California Sansei. He lives not far from where his paternal grandparents settled to work on a fruit orchard about hundred years ago. Ben recently attended the Tule Lake Pilgrimage, where he met Brad and George Takei. Late in life, he realized that he has a need to tell stories and has been exploring his literary side. Ben has contributed an article to Pacific Citizen, the award winning newspaper of the JACL, and several articles to Discover Nikkei. His stories reflect his experiences as a Japanese American, son, husband, and father. He is also exploring his artistic side as a director of photography on Ikeibi Films web series, Gold Mountain (2016), and as an actor in Infinity and Chashu Ramen (2013). 

Updtaed August 2016

food en

Nikkei Chronicles #1—ITADAKIMASU! A Taste of Nikkei Culture

Cooking Traditions with Mom

I have been told by various people that I am a “good” cook. I’m usually able to put together dishes without recipes from whatever is in the refrigerator or to come up with menu ideas just walking down store aisles. Breakdown a chicken? Just give me the sharp cleaver. Need a grilled 20 pound Thanksgiving turkey instead of an oven roasted one? No problem. Need an easy appetizer for 20? Caramelized onion/pancetta quesadillas with guacamole. Sushi for six? Just let me start the rice. How exactly I learned to cook is partially a mystery to me. It might have been all the episodes …

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war en

Will We Feel the Ghost of the Past at Jerome?

14-8-C…A few years ago, this series of numbers and a letter were meaningless to me. Then I happened to find my father’s photo album that contain scenes stretching from his childhood in Japan to camp in Arkansas and Arizona and back to Japan where he married my mother in the 1950s. I don’t think that my brothers, sister, or I had seen any of these pictures and my father rarely spoke of his life before kids except for a typical aphorism—“You kids have it easy, when I was going to school, I had to ride my bike in the snow uphill.” My father was a migrant …

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culture en

The Accidental Actor: On Location with the Cast and Crew of Infinity and Chashu Ramen

I have spent a great deal of my life trying not to be conspicuous. Maybe it’s the result of my painful lack of social skills when I was younger, my innate shyness in front of people, or maybe it was my mother’s entreaties not to stand out. Though born in Los Angeles, she lived in Japan during World War II. My mother was painfully aware of the incarceration of Japanese Americans, including my father, grandfathers, aunt, uncle, and cousins. She was always a little afraid of that happening again. As a teenager and young adult, I immersed myself in photography. I used to develop bl…

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identity en

Reflections on a Road Well Traveled

My daughter and I recently took the 180 mile trip from Placer County, California to my hometown, Fresno. Most of the trip is made on Highway 99, which runs down the middle of the Central Valley. This is a drive that I know very well. During an eleven year span from 1988-1998, I made the trip once a month to check up on my mother. I separately visited my father since my parents had divorced in the mid-1980s. Since my mother and father have both passed on, I have made the trip much less often. My last trip to Fresno was months ago to visit my aunt and cousins. Before that, I had not been back …

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